We are all looking at actionable tips in a vast arena of complicated and at times conflicting information available in the area of health and integrative nutrition.
So let me keep it very simple and to the point in a step-by-step fashion that you can implement starting right now, because being healthy should be our default state...easy and fun!
Start Small : make just one change this week. You might be tempted to do more, or go all in, avoid that urge consciously and stick to just one change for the entire week. We all know what we need to do for our health, but often it feels overwhelming to start with because it seems a lot. I see that all the time when people come to sign up for my programs or yoga sessions, the fear of making too many changes to our diets and lifestyle is very real. Newton's law of inertia applies to all bodies in the universe, including our bodies - every body continues to be in a state of rest or of uniform motion unless compelled by an external force to act otherwise. And nobody likes an external force. Going from a zero to a 100 burns people out very quickly like it causes wear and tear to your car, damaging its brakes and reduces lifespan. Once this single change has become a routine or a habit, adopt one more, so on and so forth.
Come Home : we all live in houses, some come home. What I mean is that most of us are always feeling out of place or are not really comfortable where we live - may it be the city, or the society, or our houses. A healthy home environment, physically and emotionally, is crucial to health and happiness. Studies have shown that a clean and comfortable living environment reduces stress and improves health. Your home/ living space should light you up from the within. Rarely people give importance to this; no diet can help your health if you continue living in overwhelming mess and chaos. So take some time to envision your home environment and make it a reflection of how you want your life to look like. One thing that always works - fill your home with houseplants.
Sleep Nice & Cozy : We all know we need to sleep 7-8 hours, quality of sleep matters..blah blah blah! But how??? start with creating a cozy sleep space. Very early on, in my first job, I realised that end of the day why we do what we do to earn money is to be able to sleep comfortably and eat healthy food. A good quality mattress is the best investment you can make today, even if the rest your house has no furniture, even if you do not own a bed, make sure you still have an amazing mattress, clean cotton sheets and the best quality bedding. Next, make sure to get shades or curtains that block outside light. And finally, in the morning, take time to make your bed. Not only it is nice to come home to a well made bed but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning.
Stock up : you will eat only what you see. If you are seeing sugars, processed food, breads in your pantry or refrigerator then that's what you are going to eat. When I started working with different people I realised the core of most concerns is that "oh karnica, but I have never even ever bought xyz"; and this is not for exotic foods but for basic things like a large variety of beans, pulses, legumes, fruits & vegetables etc. So buy one new thing in every food group when you go grocery shopping this weekend. Choose a fruit you have never tried, buy a vegetable you haven't eaten in a long time, add a different kind of bean to your cart, pick up a grain you've never bought but have heard that is nutritious. Step one is really just stocking up, because once you have bought it you will surely find out ways to eat it.
Get some Sun : Sunlight is the most under-rated nutrient; be it Vitamin D or our circadian rhythm, from depression to infections, sunlight is the cure to everything. Think about it, end of the day aren't we all just made up of sunlight! the sunlight converts to food in plants, those plants are eaten by animals, we eat these plants and animals...why do we never think about getting this energy directly from the sun??? I know it is not an either or option however, by getting just 10 minutes of direct sunlight everyday won't our food requirements, sleep, water intake, everything really change! Identify just one activity that you can do in the sun - walk your dog, play tennis, swim in the sun, cycle, or simply just have your morning tea or coffee in the sun and observe your life changing.
Know what you are putting in your system : so many of us are going about our lives like that ostrich that puts it head under the sand, avoiding our problems when they are staring straight in our face. Key is to move out of denial and start taking an account of what goes in the food we are eating, the soap we are using, the moisturiser we are applying...you get the gist. Read labels! just the power of acknowledgment is all that it takes while making a decision towards adding to your health or taking away from it. Did you really not know what went in your food or do you consciously avoid knowing about it???
You are your actions : you are not the stories you tell yourself; you are not what you think or how you feel; you are what you do! All of us think about getting fit, all the time, but the fear of the unknown, of the discomfort that comes with change, keeps us from taking action. The beauty of this realisation is that you start doing things differently regardless of your thoughts and feelings...you move through the fear and take inspired action. In short, stop thinking start doing.
Breathe : did you know that the Sanskrit language has the same word for breath as for life! Prana means breath, respiration, life, energy, strength. Taking out literally just 5 minutes everyday to sit and breathe with all your consciousness and awareness, breathe with each and every cell of your being. If you do not know any pranayamas it's totally ok, rather better because pranayamas shouldn't be practised unless you have learnt the right way to do it from a teacher. Just allow your breath to move the way you feel like, simply watching it, just for 5 minutes; keeping away all thoughts and to-do lists, coming back to your breath. Even better if you can do this while facing and sitting in the sun. That's it!